Governor Cooper signs Second Chance Act into law

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 562 into law.

SB 562, or the “Second Chance Act,” allows people with nonviolent criminal records to have misdemeanors and certain low-level felonies expunged if they have fully served their sentence and paid their fines, and if the crime was committed when the person was between 16 and 18 years of age.

The bill also automatically expunges charges for people whose cases are dismissed or who are found not guilty or not responsible after December 1, 2021.

The bill was introduced by Senators Danny Britt (R-Columbus, Robeson), Warren Daniel (R-Avery, Burke, Caldwell), and Floyd McKissick (D-Durham, before his resignation in January) in April of 2019. It passed the Senate unanimously in May of that year, and then languished in the House until June 10, 2020, when the House passed it unanimously.

It was sent to the Senate for concurrence on June 11, passed unanimously on June 16, and was sent to the governor on June 18.

The bipartisan Second Chance Act enjoyed broad support from groups both progressive and conservative, including Americans for Prosperity, Koch Industries, the North Carolina NAACP, the ACLU of North Carolina and the North Carolina Justice Center (parent organization of NC Policy Watch).

Upon signing the Second Chance Act into law yesterday, Cooper wrote, “We can give people who make amends for past mistakes the opportunity to clear their records. This bill offers that opportunity and a path to good jobs and a brighter future.”

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